CWG: Chief Stoker William Thorne

Chief Stoker William Thorne

William Henry Thorne was born on 28th July 1881 in the Somerset village of Milverton. He was the oldest of five children to farm labourer Henry Thorne and his wife Mary.

William was a young man with a keen sense of adventure. In February 1900, he joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker. After his initial training in Devonport, he was assigned to HMS Thunderer and, after six months, joined HMS Hood, where he spent the next two years.

Over his twelve years of his service, Stoker Thorne served on six further vessels, attaining the rank of Stoker Petty Officer.

In 1907, William had married Mabel Cross, a young woman from Taunton. While her husband was away from England – the marriage certificate gives his address as ‘on the high seas’ – she set up home near the centre of town. The young couple went on to have two children, twins Phyllis and Doris, who were born in 1911.

Back at sea, and Stoker Petty Officer Thorne’s terms of service were extended in 1912, so that he would continue to be a part of the Royal Navy until the cessation of hostilities. He served on a further six vessels and was promoted to Chief Stoker in June 1917.

It was while he was serving on HMS Griffon in the autumn of 1918 that William fell ill. Brought back to shore, he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Taunton. There is nothing to confirm the illness he contracted, but it was one he would succumb to. Chief Stoker Thorne passed away on 29th September. He was 37 years old.

William Henry Thorne lies at peace in the St James Cemetery in his home town of Taunton.

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